Scottish War Blinded veterans London-bound for Centenary march

Press Release

Proud Scottish veterans with sight loss will travel to London this weekend, supported by Scottish War Blinded, to take part in Remembrance Sunday’s Cenotaph March, marking 100 years since the end of World War One.

The 12 veterans, who all have visual impairment and are aged between 35 and 90, will join thousands of fellow veterans in the march to remember those who have suffered or died serving their country.

This is the first time Scottish War Blinded have taken part in the March Past – and the veterans are especially honoured to be involved in marking the Armistice Centenary – with this year’s service also seeing 10,000 civilians march in a ‘People’s Procession’ past the Cenotaph.

Jim Stevenson (on the left) enjoys some cooking with Hawkhead staff and a fellow member

The experience will become a reality for Scottish War Blinded after the suggestion to apply was put forward by a member who attends the charity’s activity hub in Paisley – the Hawkhead Centre.

The majority of the group regularly attend the Hawkhead Centre.

Jim Stevenson, 71, from Cumbernauld, who served in the Royal Highland Fusiliers, will take part in the march. His sight loss began five years ago as a result of macular degeneration.

Jim, who has also visited Normandy with Scottish War Blinded, said: “The sacrifices people made should never be forgotten. I just think people should know about it.

“From a personal perspective, I was part of the Royal Highland Fusiliers – formed from The Highland Light Infantry, which lost many in the war, and The Royal Scots Fusiliers.  

“I think the march is something I’ve always been interested in. I just want to be able to say I’ve experienced it. It’s hard to put into words.

“I’ll be going down to London with friends from the Hawkhead Centre. It’s the same camaraderie as it was in the Forces. That’s what the centre is about for me.”

James Abercrombie, 55, of Dundee, will also travel down to London to join his fellow Scottish War Blinded veterans in the march.

Formerly of the Royal Pioneer Corps, James, who lost his sight after his service, said: “I’ve always wanted to have the chance to do this. It’s important to show respect to those who lost their lives.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the services for one year or ten years. And it’s not just to remember those people who died 100 years ago, it’s all those who have died fighting for their country more recently.”

Gillian McDonald, the Hawkhead Centre’s Deputy Centre Manager, will accompany the veterans in the march along with four other Scottish War Blinded staff members.

Gillian said: “This occasion means so much to everyone at Scottish War Blinded,, especially with this being the centenary year. The veterans so looking forward to it.

“With sight loss and health difficulties it’s going to be challenging, but they are so determined to take part, and it shows how important this is to them. Scottish War Blinded will support the veterans to participate in this important day,despite their sight loss,, as we promote participation  each day through our activity centres and outreach work across Scotland.”